US and Chinese navy chiefs to discuss South China Sea tensions – US official

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The US chief of naval operations and his Chinese counterpart will hold an hour-long video teleconference on Thursday, days after Beijing was angered by a US warship’s patrol within a 12-nautical-mile (22km) limit around a man-made Chinese island in the South China Sea, a US official said.

The meeting was initiated by Admiral John Richardson and Admiral Wu Shengli to discuss recent operations in the South China Sea and naval ties between the two countries, the official said.

It will be the third video teleconference held between a US naval operations chief and the Chinese equivalent.

The news emerged the day Australia announced two of its warships would hold exercises with the Chinese navy in the South China Sea next week.

HMAS Stuart and HMAS Arunta will visit China’s main South China Sea base of Zhanjiang in the southern province of Guangdong before conducting drills early next week, said Australia’s defence minister, Marise Payne.

“The Royal Australian Navy has a long history of engagement with regional navies and regularly conducts port visits and exercises – including in China,” Payne said.

“There have been no changes or delays to the schedule of the HMAS Arunta and HMAS Stuart since the United States activity in the South China Sea on 27 October 2015.”

The USS Lassen’s patrol on Tuesday was the most significant US challenge yet to 12-nautical-mile territorial limits China claims around artificial islands it has built in the Spratly archipelago.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/29/south-china-sea-us-and-chinese-navy-chiefs-to-discuss-tensions-says-us-official

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